Monday, December 12, 2011

Southern Style

We Armstrongs tend not to plan too far in advance for our travel fun. In fact, it makes me queasy to make big arrangements for far, far into the future. It is so much simpler to grab a bag and GO! It is more difficult to do this with kids and their schedules, and animals of all species to deal with, but here we are, that Spouse o' Mine and I, with a nest empty of chilluns, and a barn empty of equines, and the logistics are evolving into a simpler plan, that of dogs, cats and ducks. And fish.

And that's all.

"Paul, we should go to Virginia next week."

And so, we did! We drove an SUV-load of furniture/furnishings out to the College Grad Claire, and spent a whirlwind weekend experiencing the big southern city. What fun! Claire and her boyfriend Rich are perfect hosts and tour guides. Good food from their kitchen, good tours of the city and surroundings, and fun evenings spent with kitties and the chiminea.

Saturday morning, the men went one way (cycling group ride) while we two women went the other: the Richmond Fan District Holiday Home Tour. Although I think both pairs had a good time, I can only comment on our experience. We Holiday Home Tourists enjoyed seeing big homes down in the older part of Richmond - ca. 1900s. They were very pretty! Some were nicer than others, in my opinion. I have to laugh at an observation: It seems that fur coats were the costume de rigeur for Saturday's Home Tourists. Claire & I were woefully out of place in our down coats. Who knew?!

On Sunday morning, Claire & Rich took us to a neat little hole-in-the-wall eatery, Perly's, in downtown Richmond, and then over to Belle Isle, where we got to view the rushing water of the flooding James River up close and noisy! Rushing flood waters are really loud - something I did not notice until we returned across the footbridge to Richmond, and could then hear the birds singing once again.

Belle Isle was used as a POW camp during the Civil War. So sad. Many men suffered through winters and died and were buried here. I think of them as a mother reflects on her son.

After Belle Isle, we took that Spouse o' Mine to the airport, and he flew back home to rural Kansas. Nice thing about his homecoming was that our College Boy Graham was winging it from the west coast at the same time! They met (30 minutes between their arrivals) and drove back home together.

We other three drove over to Williamsburg and spent the afternoon traipsing around the old place. It's a restored model of the old Williamsburg settlement. One can see the old houses and businesses, which are inhabited by people dressed and acting as the original settlement people.
It's a little weird to approach one of these "actors". In that the ratio of 2011 people to 1700 people were approximately 30:1, the place felt a little "touristy". But an interesting aside was that some real 2011 people own and live in some of the old 1700 homes in Williamsburg, and they have all sorts of regulations as to car parks and such, in order to dovetail into the 1700-world. (e.g., cars must be removed from historic Williams from 9:00am-5:00pm each day. This is OK, if you have someplace to go each morning??) And I found myself peering into what I thought would be an historic home, when in fact it MIGHT BE a private 2011 home. How embarrassing!!) You can Google it - it's interesting.

William and Mary College is directly adjacent to Williamsburg, and the morning we were there, the W & M choir was out and about singing Christmas carols, and drawing us visitors in to join them. And so I did. As did many people surrounding the sidewalks. That was really nice!

This morning was a glorious (albeit it cold) morning spent at Montecello,
in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Now, this is a MUST-SEE for anyone and everyone.
So interesting to see Thomas Jefferson's big old house and all his fun scientific instruments and innovations and ideas, not to mention his gardens and grounds. We were fortunate to have a good tour guide (because I don't do tours well; Claire can concur on that one), and I kept on mental task for the entire 40-minute tour throughout the home without wandering off or embarrassing Claire or Rich. (I think; the same might not be claimed for the Fan District Holiday Home Tour...sorry, Claire...)

Tonight finds me in Charleston, West Virginia.
There are lots of Appalachian mountains to drive up and over in West Virginia.
The exciting thing this afternoon was the car that caught fire in front of me (not directly in front of me...~200 ahead), and first one, then two, then a third, and lastly, a fourth fire truck came to douse the flames. They would hose down the car, and it would look all right, but then the fire would start up again, they would hose it, and on and on. 40 minutes later, I was back on my way, points west. I had thought I would be in Kentucky tonight, but I do not drive well in the dark, and I really do not drive well on mountain curves in the dark, and I stopped short of my planned destination.

So here I am, in Appalachia.
Tomorrow, I shall have a look around the place.

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